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September 28, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-28

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011- 7A

Cole keeps his cool

'Cole World' reveals
talent but no
hip hop messiah
Daily Music Editor
The release of J. Cole's Cole
World: The Sideline Story is pre-
ceded by a more-than-loaded
question: Can
J. Cole save
hip hop? Or to
go meta, does J Cole
hip hop need
saving? Most Cole World:
would reply The Sidelne
"yea" to the Story
latter (Where
is this year's Roc Nation
for the former, the same question
could easily be asked about Drake,
Jay Electronica or Big Sean - all
young upstarts with impres-
sive and powerful mentors (Lil'
Wayne, Diddy and Kanye, respec-
tively). Cole doesn't have just any
mentor, though. Most aspiring
rappers would give up their abil-
ity to rhyme to be taken in by
Jay-Z, signed to Hova's label, Roc
Nation, and have their first guest
spot on The Blueprint 3's "A Star is
Born." Talk about a head start on
the game. No pressure, right?
Inevitably, it does beg the
question: Can J. Cole summit the
mountain of his own hype? The
answer: not yet. But that's not
to say he isn't climbing. On Cole
World, he delivers his verses with
a hard-to-pin magnetism - there
is no denying Jermaine Lamarr
Cole has the X-factor. He's articu-
late, relatable and possesses a fas-
tidious intelligence - all qualities
that are in short supply in current
hip hop (we're looking at you, Tha
He's not lacking confidence,
either. On "Cole World" he raps,
"My reigngon' last like three, four
eras / Say hello to the real 'I can

"So ... who can I interest in an after-dinner foursome?"
The many forms of 'Love'


J. Cole forgets his locker combination.
be your hero.' " Though you can't
help rooting for the guy, Cole
spends more time talking about
being hip hop's hero than actually
delivering songs that transcend
"pretty good."
Cole's style fluctuates from
boastful to introspective to self-
conscious to straight-up frenzied.
On "Sideline Story," he goes hard
on his haters over a sauntering,
cocktail-hour beat as he recounts
his rise to success. On "Lost
Ones," he poignantly role-plays a
drama between a couple dealing
with anunplannedpregnancy. It's
this balance between his two per-
sonas - the hedonistic player and
the neurotic intellectual - that
makes Cole a compelling rapper.
With the exception of the
polarizing "Work Out," which
samples Kanye's "New Workout
Plan" and Paula Abdul's "Straight
Up," and the Trey Songz-assisted
"Can't Get Enough," Cole World
suffers from a dearth of light radio
hits. It's easy to see Cole is more
comfortable with his introspec-
tive, personal songs than the ones
where he rattles off pithy lines
about women and fame. As with
his mixtapes, he still favors the

old-school soul feel of piano laced
around his self-produced beats.
In arguably the only genre that
is still evolving in exciting ways
(sorry, chillwave, you've gone as
far as you could), Cole tries his
hand at playing hip hop's savior.
Drake's Thank MeLater was astep
in the right direction (Take Care
remains to be seen), Big Sean's
Finally Famous was a dud and Jay
Elec still hasn't gotten it together
and putout a real-life record. That
leaves J. Cole. Many expected
(perhaps unfairly) Cole World
to be a messianic gift - one that
could tip the scales of a genre vac-
illating between producing High
Art and total garbage. His mix-
tapes - especially Friday Night
Lights - certainly packed enough
punch to add to the build-up.
But then again, what more can
we expect? The guy's 26 years
old, his verses are superior to the
majority of his contemporaries
and he produced most of his debut
album by himself. J. Cole has had
the weight of the hip-hop world
thrust upon him by desperate
speculators, industry gods and
even his own idols. Give the guy
some time.

DailyArts Writer
In trying to describe "The
Names of Love," a French film by
director Michel Leclerc, many
words come to
mind - whim- *
sical, funny,
touching, clev- The Names
er, insightful.
But above all, of Love
it's muddled. At the Michigan
This is really
three films in Music Box
one: a witty
romantic comedy, a lyrical love
story and a social critique. And
while the film has a lot of smart
and sensitive things to say about
love, politics, cultural identi-
ty, colonialism and sex, these
strands of brilliance, (while often
funny or poignant on their own)
never quite coalesce.
"The Names of Love" opens
with Arthur Martin (Jacques
Gamblin, "The First Day of the
Rest of Your Life"), an earnest,
dour but handsome man in his
forties, talking directly to the
camera. He is also one of about
15,000 other Arthur Martins in
France, he tells us.
Next, we see Baya Benmah-
moud (Sara Forestier, "Gains-
bourg: A Heroic Life"), a young,
passionate and colorful woman
who brightly tells the audience
that no one in France shares her
name. She is one of a kind.
The film takes its time narrat-
ing the lives of these characters,
making much of the disparity in
their backgrounds. Arthur is the
son of a Franco-Jewish mother

who g
ond W
who f
ily. In
a succ
Baya i
who li
love n(
of righ
tive, th
on far
nists e
do, th.
ting to
of a fi
is satis

rew up during the Sec- dinarily warm and sensual. And
'orld War, and Baya is the interspersed at regular intervals
ter of an Algerian father are scenes of pure comedy, some
led to France when the gimmicky (when Baya, through
occupiers killed his fam- her characteristic caprice and
the present day, Arthur is forgetfulness, somehow ends up
cessful veterinarian, and on the metro naked) and some
s a devoted liberal activist brilliant (an awkward family din-
ves by the maxim "make ner in which every word evokes
ot war" - her only occu- the Holocaust), which are alter-
is the political conversion nately distracting and refreshing.
it-wingers through sexual As "The Names of Love" goes
ion. on, it begins to grapple with
ugh charming and inven- even larger themes. It turns out
is portion of the film drags Arthur's Jewish grandparents
too long. It's almost 30 were victims of the Holocaust,
es before the two protago- and he and Baya bond over the
rven meet. But once they similarities of their persecuted
ey waste no time in get- ancestors and muse on their
gether: The two go from national and cultural identity.
ers to lovers in a matter "We embody France," Baya says.
ew scenes. Opposites do However, the film begins to reel
, it seems, and their union out of control, and many strands
fying. are left hanging. It even suc-
cumbs to some romantic comedy
tropes, including the perfunctory
Trench fln breakup/reconciliation. Under-
eU 1 neath all this is the sense that the
vith liberal filmmakers are tryingdesperately
to keep the audience interested.
seduction. The director is clearly talented,
s tand "The Names of Love" would
have benefited from a decrease in
scope, a tighter fooos
e is where "The Names But the two lead performances
e" begins to fracture into are brilliant enough to cover up
As Arthur spends time many of the film's inconsisten-
aya's family, the film offers cies, and always at the core of
compelling insights into the film are Baya and Arthur,
m culture, and some sig- who remain appealing and fun
tly less compelling mus- to watch throughout. They make
n modern French politics. "The Names of Love," if not the
o, as the romance between social critique the filmmak-
nd Arthur develops, there ers might wish it to be, at least
veral poetic, beautifully a pleasurable, even affecting,
ye scenes that are extraor- diversion.


of Lov
with B
ings of
But als
Baya a
are se
shot lo

'Office' minus Carell is still boss


The bridal low-five: An age-old tradition.
'Whitney'lacks the wit

For the Daily
How high should our expecta-
tions be for television comedies?
Are we satisfied with a show
that makes us
chuckle, that
leaves us sitting
on the couch 30 shl..
minutes later Witney
thinking, with pilot
a grinning half-
shrug, "Well, Thursdays at
that was pretty 9:30 p.m.
funny"? NBC
starringnewcomerWhitney Cum-
mings and Chris D'Elia (from the
unjustly canceled "Glory Daze"),
gives us some little laughs. The
premise is simplistic: Cummings
plays the independent woman
not afraid to speak her mind, and
D'Elia plays the supportive, and
at times overwhelmed, boyfriend.
Together with some cookie-cut-
ter buddies, they move through
contrived plots and talk about dull
problems. In the pilot, Cummings
finds herself at a friend's wedding
(which she interrupts with some
manufactured rudeness), where
she begins to wonder if her rela-
tionship with D'Elia is cooling.
The long-term couple in a sitcom
worrying about sex? Riveting!

And th
all wati
all thos
were gr
least no
ket tha
from t
show. I
out of:
isn't no
in tod:

ences have seen this before been given sheets of paper saying,
e it has been done before. "This is what Cummings is like.
erein lies the fundamental Here's what D'Elia is like. This
m with "Whitney." We've friend, she was dumped, so she's
ched "Friends," "Seinfeld," grouchy. This friend, she's happy.
body Loves Raymond" and OK, now we are going to put them
e formulaic sitcoms. They in situations and they will react as
reat -10 years ago. Today, expected."
, there isn't a market (or at It could be funny, but it certain-
t a forward-thinking mar- ly isn't interesting. It won't bring
it demands better things people back week after week.
elevision) for that kind of "Whitney" may be able to stir
NBC is dragging concepts up enough sets and plots to keep
the attic with the hope of these characters busy for a few
ig a nostalgic string. But it episodes, but eventually audienc-
stalgic - it's boring. And es will catch on and it will run out
ay's television landscape, of steam. If there's one redeeming
ass is death. quality to "Whitney," it allows us
to recognize television is getting
better: This type of show simply
i isn't acceptable anymore.
e re so over DElia calls Cummings
he formula. "Whit," an attempt by the writers
to manufacture some colloquial-
ness between the lovers. He says
it like a new friend who is using a
ences want something nickname from an inside joke he
Whitney" lacks: depth. was never a part of, so that you
g forward, it's almost look at him and think, "You're
ible to conceive where we ruining it."
taken that we haven't been "Whitney" as a whole oper-
Cummings and D'Elia ates in the same way. The jokes,
ieir characters, and these the laugh-track, the characters
ers have good and bad - they leave us grimacing at the
he problemis, we can't see screen thinking, "You weren't
m for growth within these there when it was funny. Why are
t feels as though we have you bringg it up now?"

DailyArts Writer
For seven zany seasons, "The
Office" navigated the choppy
waters of primetime comedy
with remark-
able ease,
helmed by
the capable The Office
Michael Scott
(Steve Carell, Season Eight
"Crazy, Stu- Premiere
pid, Love"). Thursdays at
There seemed 9:30 p.ma
to be an infi-
nite number of NBC
ways for him
to sabotage his own well-mean-
ing attempts to be the "World's
Greatest Boss," but Dunder Mif-
flin's rag-tag team weathered
the storms and he finally earned
the respect (and the lady) he so
desperately sought. Tempting as
it was to sound the series's death
knell when Michael departed,
however, the ship sails on.
Granted, it's scary at first -
the cold open's homage to the
"planking" sensation throws
the whole crew into a band-
wagon of overdone pop culture
parodies, but it's not for noth-
ing. We quickly learn from Jim
(John Krasinski, "Something
Borrowed") that after the enig-
matic Robert California (James
Spader, "Boston Legal") got the
regional manager gig, he imme-
diately became CEO, choosing
Andy (Ed Helms, "The Hang-
over Part II") as manager in his
stead. Andy appoints Dwight
(Rainn Wilson, "The Rocker")
the new office "enforcer," and
Dwight kicks his officemates off
the planking wagon one by one,
violently and hilariously.
From then on, the show's


"Before this night is over, one of you will betray me."
new strategy comes into clearer er" role (let's hope it's a running
focus. It was hard to appreciate theme). Stanley (Leslie David
the excessive screen time dedi- Baker) shows a boisterous side of
cated to Michael before - his himself we've never seen before.
antics were a show of their own. And Robert's "promotion" to
But now, the rest of the ensemble CEO is an especially brilliant
comes out of the woodwork to get move, since he conducts his CEO
their 15 minutes, and it's startling duties furtively from the Scran-
to see how much they've changed ton branch's conference room.
in such a short time. His constant, eerie presence in
the office along with his one-of-
a-kind temperament guarantees
Ensemble cast plen'yofeisodespringboards.
anyone's guess where
fills the holes the show will go from here, but
there's still plenty of ground to
That's what cover if the show's writers take
advantage of their new template
she said. and explore the office's lesser-
known funny(wo)men. Was the
scarcity of crucial characters like
Creed and Kevin in past episodes
Andy's nothing like the awk- neglectful or deliberate? Time
ward, sycophantic spaz we will tell.
remember from seasons past - Amid the uproar of new char-
instead, he's shrewd yet loyal, acters and evolving old ones,
political but practical. Dwight is there's at least one certainty:
still the same zealous sociopath, "The Office" hasn't overstayed
but it'll be interesting to see how its welcome; it's simply outgrown
far he goes with his new "enforc- Michael Scott.

can bet
have th
traits. T
any roo
traits. I



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